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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Yeah, Though I Walk: Why a Series about Grief?


Why a series about grief? In a few words, to create a safe place to share our stories by first sharing mine, and to invite you to share your story of loss.

Grief has touched my life in many ways and far too often. Too many people I know have lost a loved one, lost a home, gone through a divorce, or suffered another type of loss and experienced deep, profound grief. I too have experienced painful losses.

I became aware of this pattern of grief as my church experienced a season of untimely deaths. Later while working on a timeline of my life for a spiritual formation class, I realized that grief was not only a theme in my church, but in my own life as well. As I processed this with our pastor, he challenged me in two ways:

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First, he challenged me to complete grief-work of my own that had been left undone.

Second, he challenged me that working with people who are grieving is delicate work that needs to be done with skill as well as love and compassion.

His challenge started me on a journey to work through my own unresolved grief and then to learn how to help others walking through the intense pain of loss.

Since then, I have read and studied, listened and learned about grief and how it impacts us. We never "get over" grief, but we can assimilate it into the narrative of our life in a way that allows us to both love the one lost and to live again ourselves. One of the key tasks of working through grief is to share our stories, to be able to put our loss into words and know that it is heard.

So, this series is about me sharing my story and inviting you to share your story of loss, about us coming together to comfort and encourage one another, to share experiences and hope, to share what helped us through, and to strengthen one another in this place called mourning, grief, and bereavement.

If you feel comfortable to share your story in a comment, I would be delighted to hear it. 
If you would rather contact me privately, you may send me a private e-mail. 

6 comments:

  1. This is so good, Dar. For we're always grieving something, always letting someone go, always releasing something that we have held dear ...

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    1. Thanks, Linda!! I so appreciate your words of encouragement . . . always. Knowing a piece of your story makes your words today even more dear to me. Thank you!

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  2. Patty (Riley) BrakeNovember 7, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Dear Darlene, This sounds like an excellent series! Grieving is so hard and very personal too. I think everyone goes through it a little bit differently. As I look back over my life, some of the experiences that stand out the most as life impacting are connected with grief and loss. The first time I really experienced grief was as a teenager when one of my brother's closest friends died very unexpectantly after a fire at a local hardware store where he worked. He was badly burned and only lived for 2-3 days afterwards. His funeral was one I will never forget as many in the community grieved including his family, our church members, and many friends in the community. He was very well liked as an individual. They dismissed the high school early that day so the students who knew him could attend even though he had graduated the year before that! I have a sharp image in my mind of his deeply grieving family as they came down the center aisle at our church before the funeral! SO many tears were shed that day but, thankfully, we did know that Bill was in heaven with our Lord!! Since that time most of his siblings have gone on to serve the Lord in various ministries through the years, praise God! Of course, I also remember the death of our grandparents too. Cynthia's husband gave the message at Grandma Riley's funeral and I remember him asking who would continue in service in the areas where she had served before her death. That really struck me and challenged me! Years later when I lost my mom it was the first time I was actually right beside someone when they took their final breath! That was a moment in time that was so impactful as I realized that she had just left this earth and was breathing her first breath in heaven!! It really made me take inventory of my own life and how I was using my time here on earth to serve our Saviour and Lord! One of the the most recent deaths I've experienced has been my brother, Steve, in 2010. This was different in that both my sister and I had been so concerned to know whether or not he really knew the Lord. We still don't have complete assurance but the pastor who preached at his memorial service and knew him quite well seemed to think that he did. We were so blessed, though, to meet several Christian coworkers and to be reassured that God had answered our prayers and our parents' prayers to put Christians around him to witness to him since we lived so far away. What a joy that brought to our hearts! Grief takes a great deal of time but God is SO good to help comfort us through both His Word and others who have experienced it as well. (sorry this is so long)

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    1. Dear Patty, No need to apologize for the length. Our stories of grief are rarely brief. Like you, the first time I was with someone when they took their last breath was with a parent - my dad. Like you, it impacted me in a profound way and made heaven tangible to me in a deeper way than it ever had been before.

      It's odd, I remember more about Grandma R's life than any of my other grandparents, yet I can't draw up any memories of her funeral. I do remember that she was temporarily at my parent's home while her normal caregivers were away on a brief vacation and that she passed away in the guest room at my parent's house. I remember that her passing was unsettling for my mom and I remember feeling sad. I remember helping to clean out her house after her passing and being so thankful to be able to have her diaries that others didn't want. Many years after her death, I was sorting through some old papers and came across a poem she had written - for my birthday I think - and seeing her handwriting brought tears all those years later.

      I am so glad for the reassurances that God gave you about Steve. Yes, God does comfort us in our grief through assurances, through His Word and through others.

      So very glad that you stopped in and shared some of your stories of loss. Take care!

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  3. I had to read this a few times before I could post anything. I lost both my father (9/01) and my oldest brother (10/04), both were homeless and had passed a couple of days before they were found, both had addictions, both were loners. I miss them. Satan attacks with the guilt. Why didn't you do more? Why didn't you give them a place to live? Painful. I thought I was enabling them, they were grown and made their own choices, right? Times goes by yet I still get that awful stab of pain because they're gone and maybe if I had done something they wouldn't be. I loved them but it wasn't enough. I think the absolute worst is that I'm not sure where they are now. That is harder than anything, that makes the pain breathtaking. It's been awhile, but it still creeps up on me. Keep writing Dar!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so very sorry for your losses.

      Yes, guilt is often a companion to grief. Looking back we see more completely than we see at the time. We look back and see consequences we never dreamed of at the time. We look back and we second guess ourselves and see what we might have been wishing we could make it better than what is. However, the reality is, we did the best we could with what we knew then.

      They did indeed make their own choices. Addiction is a powerful taskmaster that enslaves and is difficult to escape once entrapped. No one could rescue them from their addiction except for themselves in partnership with Christ. You loved them. You couldn't save them. Saving them wasn't your job. But you loved them then and still do and that is a great gift.

      Grief is an expression of our love and your words are filled with love for your father and brother. From what you've shared, I believe you made decisions out of love and that you did the best you could with what you knew at the time. You're right. It's false guilt from the enemy.

      God knows where they are and He is both just and loving. He is able to be trusted with their eternal destiny and to give you strength and peace as you entrust that to Him. Easy? Not at all. But God is good and able to be trusted even with the things that are a mystery for now.

      May God bless you and comfort you! Thanks again for stopping by and for sharing your story.

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